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Flyin’ preparing for MLK holiday takeoff

Sunrise Christian Academy wanted in the Good Samaritan Flyin’ to the Hoop. No problem, reasoned founder Eric Horstman. But budget restraints would mean the emerging national prep school power from Wichita, Kan., would have to endure an exhausting drive to Kettering in potentially weather-challenged mid-January.

That’s OK with Thurgood Marshall High School boys basketball head coach Darnell Hoskins, whose Cougars are matched against Sunrise.

“We’ll hit ’em when they get off the bus,” said Hoskins, just one of many area coaches who attended Tuesday’s press conference at Good Samaritan North to announce the 2014 Flyin schedule during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

Horstman’s inspiration has blossomed into the 12th annual event, which will be at Kettering’s Trent Arena for the third straight year from Jan. 17-20.

Thirty-seven teams, consisting of local, Ohio and national high school and prep school powers, will play 22 games over the four days.

It’s hyped as the second-most prestigious event of its kind in the nation, according to CBS Sports/MaxPreps. It hasn’t hurt that the No. 1 picks in each of the last two NBA drafts are Flyin’ alums: Anthony Davis (Hornets, 2012) and Anthony Bennett (Cavaliers, 2013).

Yet another Flyin’ headliner, Andrew Wiggins, a University of Kansas freshman, is favored to be the top pick in the 2014 draft.

Those kinds of five-star players matched up against many of the area’s best programs has proven to be a consistently winning combination. City of Kettering officials estimate that the event is worth $1.9 million annually to the area and attracts 15,000-20,000 spectators.

“My blood pressure goes up 10 points (Tuesday) and it doesn’t go down until after the event is over,” Horstman said.

“We always try and tell people that we’re trying to get local teams the chance to get on a national spotlight that they might not otherwise get a chance to do. That’s the whole goal each year and that’s why we try and get this bigger and bigger.”

Franklin, featuring standout junior Luke Kennard, landed a rematch with Homeschool Christian Youth Association (Houston) and its standout Justin Jackson, a verbal commit to North Carolina. Kennard scored 32 points in a 79-65 win last season.

“I’m glad I have the opportunity to come back,” Kennard said. “It’s a great tournament and first class. I love being a part of it and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to play against a great player like Justin Jackson.”

Wayne drew likely consensus nationally top-ranked Findlay Prep of Nevada in the two-game opening nightcap. Stivers and new coach Shawn McCullough will play Miamisburg in Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader.

Other expected nationally ranked teams that will attend are Huntington Prep (W.Va.), Prime Prep (Texas) and Roselle Catholic (N.J.).

Other area teams that will join the Flyin’ field are Lakota East, Chaminade Julienne, Franklin, Dunbar, Centerville, Versailles, Beavercreek, Trotwood-Madison and host Fairmont.

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